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May 6, 2007
F.E.A.R. - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
26/4/2007VivendiVivendiDay 1 Studios12-16
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Particle effects are great.
F.E.A.R. (which stands for First Encounter Assault Recon) isn't a new game. Indeed the title was first released on PC way back in October 2005 - so a bit over 18 months ago now. With Sony's uber console now released there were high expectations that this would be the definitive version of this FPS - but it seems something has gone somewhat amiss. The gameplay is intact (mostly) and there's a bonus mission to complete - but it just doesn't razzle dazzle as it should. Still, if you don't have a high end PC or a XBox 360 then read on as this game still offers plenty of thrills.

The story begins as an unidentified paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound, taking hostages but issuing no demands. The government responds by sending in special forces, but loses contact as an eerie signal interrupts radio communications. When the interference subsides moments later, the team has been obliterated. Live footage of the massacre shows an inexplicable wave of destruction tearing the soldiers apart before they can even react. As part of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else can handle, your mission is simple: Eliminate the intruders at any cost. Determine the origin of the signal. And contain this crisis before it spirals out of control.

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In the middle of a firefight.
So F.E.A.R. is pretty much a straightforward FPS. The storyline is present in the game, but it's certainly nothing deep - in fact you'll probably leave with just as many questions as it answers - but its the gameplay that takes center stage as one would expect. The PS3 game is basically a direct copy of the PC/XBox 360 title but rather then the original developers Monolith Productions working on the game, it was handed over to relative newcomers Day 1 Studios. Your character has a wide range of weapons at his disposal including the usual arsenal including a pistol, machine gun, rocket launcher, plasma rifle as well as frag and proximity grenades to name a few. The game includes around a dozen levels (including one PS3 bonus level) which are split up into smaller chapters. Each takes a fair chunk of time to get through and brings this up to a 15+ hour game. As you progress through the missions there are occasional cut-scenes which spell out the story as well as various voice messages.

The games physics are provided by Havok and this game is one of the better (early) examples of the technology in action. Today this engine has been expanded and enhanced quite a bit more in newer titles but it still provides some good ragdoll physics on enemies, and the occasional destrucion in the levels. What can't be denied are the insane battles that are, at times, as frantic as any other games on the market. You'll be on the edge of your seat plenty of times in this game - and pretty much from the opening levels too!

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Flame effects are awesome.
Multi-player has also been catered for with support for up to 16-players online. We tested this online very briefly but due to a lack of people with the game didn't get into more then a match with 4 other players at this stage. We are happy to report that besides the issues with the game in its entirety (detailed below) the online game seems pretty solid with little lag. Sadly there is no option for voice chat during online games which is pretty criminal. Sadly there is also no split-screen mode for some local deathmatch shinanigans. Sigh...

Sadly F.E.A.R. on the PS3 isn't perfect - in fact it's far from it. My first gripe revolves around the load times which are quite annoying - well over 30 seconds whenever you enter a new level with some taking the better part of a minute. Where this game does hurt though is the sloppy response time to your weapons. I'm not sure if it's due to the wireless controller, or perhaps the less then perfect frame rate but there is a very minute lag between hitting the fire button, and something happening on screen. Some people may not even notice this happening, but for seasoned gamers it is quite obvious.

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These guys are damn tough!
Something else which is quite hard to stomach is the asking price. At $AU99.95 it is $AU20 cheaper then almost all other third party PS3 titles, however when you consider that you can now purchase the Gold PC version which includes the expansion pack F.E.A.R.: Expansion Point for as low as $AU72, or $39 as the standalone game, then you have to wonder why the PS3 game costs so much when you don't even get the expansion pack included! Not a good move on Vivendi's part - are they going to issue the expansion pack in future? Will it cost as little as $AU22 as the PC expansion pack? I certainly doubt it.

To be honest I was never overwhelmed by F.E.A.R.'s graphics on the PC - they just never really blew me away. With that in mind I wasn't set for anything too extravagant on the PS3, but I left the game being bitterly disappointed. In fact, the graphics in this PS3 version aren't even up to the quality of the PC or XBox 360 versions. Overall the graphics look quite a bit softer on the PS3 then in other systems - even when viewed on the latest 1080p LCD TV (although the game only runs at 720p!) and the frame rate, as mentioned, is certainly not 60fps, nor even 30fps for the most part. The textures also look rather drab and lack any sort of sharpness, even close up. Not helping is that with the passing of time other games have well and truly surpassed this game in terms of level detail, enemies on screen and different environments - Resistance: Fall of Man being the obvious example on PS3.

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Who is that girl??
Indeed much of this game takes place indoor in confined spaces or corridors limiting the graphics to mainly metallic greys and the occasional bit of furniture. Having said that, enemy design is solid enough, and the games effects such as flames, explosions, smoke and particles all look the part. As we mentioned previously though the frame rate is an issue - and for an FPS a struggling rate can result in reduced gameplay experience - that happens in this case.

At least in terms of audio F.E.A.R. does manage to hit the mark. Not only is it atmospheric, and at times rather haunting, but the quality is quite superb as well with solid use of surround sound making determining the position of enemies all that much easier. The music is atmospheric, and effects pretty brutal on a decent system.

To be honest, if you have a high-end PC, or indeed an XBox 360, then you're probably better off with those versions of F.E.A.R. as they certainly look a bit better. Having said that despite the technical issues this is still a top-notch First Person Shooter that will keep you entertained for quite some time.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSStrangely the PS3 version is the worst looking to date. It's not terrible, but certainly should have been been better with better frame rate.
SOUNDThe one area where this game still manages impress in a big way.
GAMEPLAYDespite issues, this is still an above average FPS experience overall.
VALUEThe PC and 360 version is cheaper, and better. Some exclusive can't make up for this cost - despite being cheaper then other PS3 games.
OVERALLF.E.A.R. is a solid title on any system, but the PS3 seems to come off worst. Put simply it's not as polished as we hoped. Still, if the PS3 is your only option you're still in for quite a bit of fun.

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